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What are Online Ratings Based On?

Reviews tell a whole lot more

online reviews and online ratings social media
Many people make buying decisions based on online reviews and ratings but how “real” are these? And how can you tell?

IT CAN BE DIFFICULT to tell whether online ratings and reviews are real or not. One easy way to get a pretty good idea of what’s real and what’s not is checking for a balance of positive and negative ratings and reviews that have been left by real people who’ve used their Gmail or Facebook account.

Reviews are better than ratings

If you’re a person who relies on ratings and reviews to make purchasing decisions, you’ll know you can’t really tell the trustworthiness of a businesses if it only asks customers to leave a rating (usually out of 4 or 5). Similarly it’s hard to tell what people really think of a business if they’ve only left ratings rather than reviews. 

Businesses with a good mixture of ratings and reviews, where a customer has been able to leave a comment justifying the rating they gave the business, make it much easier to make a decision.

Check the content of reviews

You don’t need to read thousands of reviews for a business, but it helps to read a few of them to see what customers are saying. This also helps determine whether these reviews are truly independent or not.

What are reviewers actually commenting on, and if they’re negative, is there a pattern? Is a local restaurant consistently understaffed or does a plumber often fail to turn up on time? Are the complaints about things that would concern you or are they petty — a long queue at a cafe that still serves good food and coffee, for example.

Positive reviews provide useful information

If the reviews of a business are mostly positive, do they provide any useful information? Hundreds and hundreds of reviews that simply say “great” or “fantastic” don’t tell you enough about what customers thought were great or fantastic about that business.

People might have really liked something that doesn’t suit your needs. It is also a good indicator that they’re not entirely true or real reviews either.

At EzyLearn we provide testimonials from our students, which include their full name and location, and why they chose EzyLearn to study in the first place. We also offer a money-back guarantee and free samples of our course content, so students know they can trust they’re making the right choice.

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Want to brush up your skills in cloud accounting software? Ready to progress to intermediate or advanced levels in MYOBMicrosoft ExcelXero or another accounting package? Need help with social media? Take a look at our wide range of online course options or visit our website for more information.


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Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

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Can You Trust Online Ratings and Reviews?

How to tell a review is authentic

online reviews are they real
If using online reviews to help you work out what to buy, you want to make sure you’re really hearing it from the horse’s mouth, and not just reading fake marketing guff.

IF YOU’RE ANYTHING LIKE most people, rating and reviews are how you probably make many of your purchase decisions. This can be for purchasing white goods, clothing, a holiday, or even choosing a real estate agent. Continue reading Can You Trust Online Ratings and Reviews?

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Cash Flow Forecasting for Sole Traders and Contractors

Great expense apps if you’re self employed

expense apps for self employed people
Are you busy and self-employed but can’t afford the higher price tag of some expense tracking apps? Don’t worry, there are cheaper options available.

AS WE’VE WRITTEN PREVIOUSLY, cash flow is one of the most accurate instruments for predicting your business’s financial health. It’s more accurate than profit and loss statements, which don’t take into account any cash outlays, and so don’t show a true picture of your business’s finances.

We have also checked out some of the latest cash flow forecasting apps that integrate with Xero and other accounting packages. These can be excellent tools for businesses that employ staff or are expanding rapidly, but there are still many business owners that don’t fit into that category, and although keeping an eye on their cash flow and forecasting trends remains critical to their financial health, they can’t justify the high price tag of an app like Spotlight or Float.

Expense and budgeting apps

What’s a cash flow app, if not a program that tracks your expenses and income and then tells you how much money you have left in the bank? That’s what FUTRLI and Spotlight, the apps we reviewed recently would do, and then also let you do other things, like create scenarios to determine the particular outcome of a business decision.

But there are other expense apps that sole traders and contractors can use for cash flow forecasting:

Pocketbook

Pocketbook, the Australian personal finances app recently acquired by ASX-listed ZipMoney, is free to use, although a recent deal with 1300HomeLoans means it may analyse your spending data to make commercial suggestions around your personal finances. (For the record, I have been testing it for months and hasn’t been subject to any such suggestions.)

Pocketbook lets you connect your bank account to the app so it can import your income and transaction data. Once you get some initial housekeeping — categorising your expenses and income — out of the way, you can then set up a safety spend limit based on Pocketbook’s analysis of your spending vs. income.

Pocketbook also learns from your transaction history, meaning it can predict upcoming income and bills. It’s very nifty for contractors or freelancers who have more than one income source that doesn’t always run through your accounting software — if you’re working on your TFN and ABN, for instance.

TrackMySpend

TrackMySpend expense apps for Xero online training courseThis free app, by ASIC MoneySmart, lets you connect your bank account to the app, categorise your expenses, nominate a spending limit, and create expense reminders that can be sent to as text messages ahead of their due date.

Like Pocketbook (but without the commercial overtones), TrackMySpend will also learn from previous trends in your income and expense data to predict future income and expenses. Best of all, TrackMySpend can be exported as an Excel file or connected to your accounting software. The iOS app is a bit out of date, though, so it won’t work on more recent Apple devices.

ATO

ato_mobile_app for Xero online training course videosIf you didn’t know it already, the Australian Tax Office has its own mobile app. It allows you to access the ATO’s online services, lodge and track your tax return (yes, right from your mobile phone), work out key tax dates and access tools and calculators.

Its most handy functions: being able to enter your expenses (including a photo of receipts and bills), track mileage, and record your income. It’s not automated, but it does propagate that info directly into your tax return, so you don’t have to do it later. It also accurately calculates your tax liabilities.

The ATO app’s best function, however, is its “business performance calculator”, which, using the data you input, will give you an indication of your business’s ability to pay its debts, as well as a comparison of its performance based on the ATO’s “small business benchmarks” data. Over time, it’ll also show whether your business has improved or declined since you last used the tool.

Understanding your business’s cash flow is critical to its ongoing financial health, and to your ability to make sound business decisions. Use one of these tools in conjunction with your accounting software to ensure your business is running on all cylinders.

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Our Xero training courses, which provide training in EVERY LEVEL for ONE LOW COST, will show you how to run financial reports, including cash flow statements that you can use to create forecasts in Excel. Visit our website for more information about our online training courses.


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Are you in business as a bookkeeper, tradesperson, retailer, trainer or real estate agent and want to stand out from the crowd? We can teach you the online marketing techniques to help you do just this! Check out what’s included in our comprehensive Social Media and Digital Marketing online training courses.


 

 

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Expensify, Xero and Your Retail Shop

Record retail inventory quickly

using-expensify-and-xero-for-a-retail-shop-outlet
Keeping track of expenses just got a whole lot easier.

IN A PREVIOUS POST we discussed how Expensify, an app which you can link to your Xero accounting software, can help businesses like yours’ keep track of expenses easily, accurately, and securely.

And while it’s a great expense app for professional services businesses or tradespeople, Expensify is also great for retail and online shops or hospitality businesses.

Input data and send to Xero

Shops and hospitality businesses require inventory or stock — and lots of it. But it results in an accounting and bookkeeping nightmare at the end of the month when it needs to be entered into Xero and then recorded against sales. Of course, we suggest business’ try to reconcile their transactions more regularly than just at the end of every month.

Take a photo of bills and invoices from suppliers and upload them to Expensify, which will input all of the data and then send it through to Xero.

Create expense reports

Online and offline retailers don’t have to worry about this too much unless they also produce their own products, but for cafes and restaurants that host functions or cater for events, separating the expenses directly related to those functions and events is an important way to track their profitability.

Automatic approvals cut bookkeeping time

By turning on the automatic approvals feature and setting expense rules, you can cut your bookkeeping time by having recurring or trivial expenses automatically approved and sent to Xero, so you can spend more time on the complicated ones that require closer inspection.

By keeping an eagle eye on your expenses using Xero and Expensify you’ll be able to see precisely where your business is most profitable and where it’s not so you can modify it accordingly.

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Our Xero training courses will show you have to track expenses in Xero and how to connect third party apps to your Xero account. We offer ALL SKILLS LEVELS for ONE LOW PRICE. Find out more.


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Are you in business as a bookkeeper, tradesperson, retailer, trainer or real estate agent and want to stand out from the crowd? We can teach you the online marketing techniques to help you do just this! Check out what’s included in our comprehensive Social Media and Digital Marketing online training courses.


 

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Are You Making these GST Mistakes in Your Bookkeeping?

Being Jack of All Trades can land you in hot water with BAS

find a bas agent in your local area
Don’t submit inaccurate financial documents by trying to do everything yourself by way of bookkeeping.

IT’S PERHAPS EASIER TO do your own bookkeeping these days than it used to be; particularly if you’re using a cloud accounting program like MYOBXero or QuickBooks, which are among the easiest, yet robust, accounting applications currently on the market.

But even so, there are many aspects of Australian tax that, while accounting software makes it possible to carry them out yourself (like business activity statements, for example), it’s not a good idea unless you really know what you’re doing. Here are the three GST mistakes nearly every business owner makes in their bookkeeping. Continue reading Are You Making these GST Mistakes in Your Bookkeeping?

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Turning Your Business Idea into Income

How not to plunge into working for yourself — while working for yourself!

becoming an independent contractor_comp
You might have to supplement your income by working at a cafe or similar while you find your first clients.

IF YOU’VE DETERMINED THAT your business idea is viable and has the potential to generate revenue, then it’s time to start earning income from it.

We show you how to carry out market research and competitive analysis in our Business Start Up Course and this blog post will tell you the steps you should take to start deriving income from your business idea.

Have an income on the side

It’s unwise to plunge headfirst into self-employment. You need to have some income behind you while you’re getting your business off the ground. That may even mean leaving full time employment and taking up part time work in a cafe or retail shop. You have bills to pay and it’s neither fun nor productive being unable to. You do, however, need time to work on your business, so you can’t be so time poor and stressed that you can’t devote the necessary time to organising it.

You need to have some income behind you while you’re getting your business off the ground. That may even mean leaving full time employment and taking up part time work in a cafe or retail shop.

Start working as a contractor for other businesses

finding work as a contractor
Initially, be willing to work as a contractor while you build up clients for your own business.

Getting that first job or client is always the hardest part of starting any business. But it’s easier when your business is providing a service and you’re working as a contractor or freelancer.

Whether you’re a bookkeeper, virtual assistant, even a tradesperson, you can apply for jobs working with other businesses, rather than spending money you probably don’t have to market your business, while you wait for clients to find you.

Look for part time, contract or casual jobs you can apply to. If you see a company has been advertising for a full time employee for a while and it appears they’re having trouble filling the position, get in touch with them. Find out if there’s an opportunity for you to work with them on an ongoing freelance or part-time basis, or until they fill the position.

There are many businesses that would like to hire freelancers or contractors but don’t know where to find them, so they continue to employ by traditional means. If you can show them you’re capable, and that there are benefits to using a contractor or freelancer, then the job might just be yours.

Find a recruitment agency

The businesses that do like to hire contractors and freelancers, but don’t want to manage it themselves, go to recruitment agencies. If you’re in any kind of specialised or creative industry — IT, finance, business management, advertising, marketing, etc — then it’s a good idea to get a recruiter, maybe two. It won’t cost you anything, and it’s the best referral marketing a person can get. Plus, it’s always good to have someone in your corner when you’re just starting out, to ensure you’re getting fair market rates, conditions, and the like.

“Packaging” your services

Before approaching businesses or recruiters, you need to understand the value you bring. Sometimes this means combining a number of your skills and gaining other ones, to ensure you’re always in demand.

In business parlance, this is known as packaging your services, which we also cover in our Business Start Up course. To learn more, visit our website.


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Are you in business as a bookkeeper, tradesperson, retailer, trainer or real estate agent and want to stand out from the crowd? We can teach you the online marketing techniques to help you do just this! Check out what’s included in our comprehensive Social Media and Digital Marketing online training courses.


 

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Thinking of Starting a Second Business? Introducing Jerry

Case Study: Costs for starting up a second, related business

microsoft excel starting a second business
Contemplating starting a second business, related in some way to your first? Excel can help you forecast start up costs.

A LOT OF BUSINESS OWNERS branch out into related fields when their flagship business becomes successful enough (just look at Jim’s Mowing). However, this can be a bit dicey if the business owner doesn’t properly forecast all the start up costs. Not doing so can not only have an adverse impact on the new venture, but also on the existing business.

In this case study, we’re going to look at the start up costs associated with starting a real estate sales business. With real estate licencing laws changing and digital marketing available to everyone the ability to start your own business and work at home is now very realistic. Continue reading Thinking of Starting a Second Business? Introducing Jerry

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FREE Digital Business Course

Learn How to Run a Business Online

starting-a-new-cafe-or-retail-business
It doesn’t matter whether you have a specifically online business, or a gift shop, clothing store, cafe or other bricks and mortar business, as a business owner, we can help you understand the digital economy.

In a post I published about starting your own business, I said that all small business owners should have an understanding of traditional and digital marketing. You’ll be surprised how many don’t!

All businesses have a digital aspect to them these days so it’s vital that business owners and managers know how to manage the digital aspects of their business.

This starts by understanding some of the terms used and how websites, domain names, hosting and the Google search engine works. Continue reading FREE Digital Business Course

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LinkedIn Profiles: How Useful Are They, Really?

What is the power of a LinkedIn profile?

how useful is a linkedin profile online learning social media training
We scrutinise the power of a LinkedIn online social media profile.

THERE MAY BE SOME debate over whether having a LinkedIn profile actually helps professionals make valuable connections with other professionals, but the same could also be said of traditional networking.

As a writer, I probably should network more, but personally, I don’t find much value in it. In the past I have either fallen prey to someone wanting publicity for their pyramid-scheme-type business or I’ve turned into a borderline stalker myself; harassing someone who perhaps only gave me their business card out of a feeling of social obligation.

Besides, a business card tells you nothing about how competent or capable that person is at their job. For writers and journalists, I’ve always found it pretty easy to validate their claims on Google; for other professionals: not so much. Until LinkedIn, that is.

The Professionalism of LinkedIn

LinkedIn may not connect you with the recruiter of your dream job, but Twitter doesn’t guarantee you’ll become BFFs with Mariah Carey, either. What LinkedIn does, however, is give you an online professional profile.

And it’s the rather perverse nature of today’s digital society that makes an online professional presence invaluable; LinkedIn itself can act as your calling card, demonstrating how others endorse you and your work; it can act as your resume; and it can help you to actively find the right job.

The Power of a LinkedIn Profile

Any time you meet someone, you can pretty much guarantee they’ll Google you. Whether they’re prospective employers you’ve interviewed with, people you’ve met in a professional setting (clients, industry alums) or even colleagues, you can bet at some point or another they have Googled you.

What that Google search turns up can totally change the way they interact with you.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve LinkedIn-stalked a fellow writer only to discover their LinkedIn profile is not so impressive, after all. From this point on the entire dynamic of our relationship has changed immediately; suddenly I feel I’ve got the power.

On the other end of the scale, discovering the meek-mannered, unassuming but otherwise seemingly-unimpressive editor I chatted to with extreme ease is actually a former Vanity Fair staffer or contributor to The New Yorker adds another dimension to our relationship — usually, I’m putty in their hands.

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And it’s in this context that, yes, a LinkedIn profile does work. Whether you’re using LinkedIn as a job-hunter or a networker, your LinkedIn profile tells people everything they think they need to know about you.

The old phrase — first impressions are lasting impressions — is out. It’s online impressions that are the lasting impressions.

If you haven’t already, we welcome you to connect with EzyLearn at LinkedIn.


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Our Xero online training courses include EVERYTHING for ONE LOW PRICE. Furthermore, if you select our Lifetime Membership option, you’ll have LIFETIME access to our ongoing course updates. All EzyLearn courses are accredited by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) and can be counted towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Find out more about our Xero online training courses. 


 

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CIA Provides Secrets about Linkedin

LinkedIn: The Living CV

I’VE WRITTEN A NUMBER of posts about the power of LinkedIn to replace the traditional resume, but after speaking with an expert from CIA (Sydney-based company, Computer Information Agency or CIAOPs) I learnt some new secrets about Linkedin. Robert Crane, CIA’s Director, shared some tips as to how and why LinkedIn is a fantastic tool to help you get a job AND find more customers.

Robert-Crane-Digitar-web-linkedin-secrets
Robert Crane is the Director of Computer Information Agency

Here’s what Robert had to say…

One of the greatest advantages that Internet based technologies can provide is leverage. Nothing could be more the case than with social media. Unfortunately, too many businesses and professionals fail to see the potential that it can provide themselves and their businesses. Probably the most effective social network for business is LinkedIn.

You may be surprised to know that LinkedIn in has been around for over a decade. It was around long before Facebook and Twitter as a source of connecting business people together. LinkedIn allows you to create a personal or business profile to which you can add all kinds of information.

[quote]Many professionals use LinkedIn as a “living CV” where they can post their career and achievement records for others to view.[/quote]

Sharing that information with others help them grow their potential network and makes it easier for others to locate people with the right skills.

The True Power of LinkedIn

This is where the key technology of search begins to reveal the true power of LinkedIn, for not only can you share your information with others, independent parties can search LinkedIn and locate individuals with the skills they need. This is reason why so many HR people use LinkedIn to locate and target individuals with the skills they require.

[quote]Posting resumes and trawling employment website is now ‘old school’. Indeed, the highest quality applicants are signed up via Linkedin even before a job is offered.[/quote]

Is It Too Late for You?

This means that if you are not using Linkedin your competition probably already is. So what can you do to catch up?

  1. Firstly, you’ll need to create a LinkedIn account and then fill in the information about yourself. The more professional information you provide the better. It is also important to include a professional headshot as part of the profile so if you don’t have one of these go out and get one.
  2. Once you have all your information entered start looking for people and associates you know who are already on LinkedIn. When you find them send them an invite to ‘connect’ with you on LinkedIn.
  3. Once you network starts to grow make sure that Linkedin becomes an ongoing part of your business strategy. Don’t let the information you have entered get stale. Revisit your account regularly and ensure it is always as current as possible. As you meet new contacts look them up on LinkedIn and ask them to ‘connect’ with you. Always be looking to grow your network and don’t be afraid to ask people in your network for introductions to others on Linkedin.
  4. When you start to feel comfortable with Linkedin use the testimonial feature to ask business contacts and clients for referrals. These referrals can be directly posted on your profile for all to see.
  5. Nothing lends credibility like endorsement so always continue to seek them out and grow the number that you have. Once the endorsements start to flow make sure you direct other information about your business to your LinkedIn information. Use it on your website, business cards, etc.

Other Powerful LinkedIn Uses

The more you work with LinkedIn, the more powerful you will find it. When you need something you can ask your network of contacts, you can search their skills for what you need, and you can join any number of special interest Linkedin groups on the very topic that you are seeking assistance on. Because Linkedin has become such a worldwide tool for business, chances are you’ll find the person or business you’re looking for, if you know how to use it.

Jump On the Social Media Bandwagon

I went to a seminar recently and heard Nick Bowditch from Facebook speak. He said that the businesses engaging with, and using, social media will be the ones still around in 5 years. Perhaps it’s arrogant to think that social media is so mighty, but given the speed with which technology is moving these days, and the ferocity of competition, it’s better to build a profile, reputation and brand that people know, like and trust — and social media is the opportune way to do this.


Social Media and Digital Marketing online training course_comp

Are you in business as a bookkeeper, tradesperson, retailer, trainer or real estate agent and want to stand out from the crowd? We can teach you the online marketing techniques to help you do just this! Check out what’s included in our comprehensive Social Media and Digital Marketing online training courses.